As I tweeted the end of last week, IrishGenealogy.ie has added “enhanced” indexes to births, deaths and marriages to their website. What does that mean? Civil registration began in Ireland in 1864 for all births, deaths and marriages, and in 1845 for Protestant marriages. The indexes that we have been using were created from the microfilms at the Family History Library and cover from their inception to 1958 for the Republic of Ireland and through 1921 for Northern Ireland (beginning in 1922 you need to go to the General Register Office of Northern Ireland. One of the enhancements is that the new indexes go to 2013!
So now, I can try to put together the descendants of my husband’s family that remained in Ireland. Here are some of the results. First I searched for the marriage of Martin Daly and Nora Noonan in 1909…I wasn’t able to find this in the FamilySearch Index. It’s not in this index either. I have the date, name of the priest and witnesses from a cousin in Ireland, but it never made it into the GRO indexes although I might find it if I went to the local registry. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I have never been able to find the death of my husband’s great grandmother, Mary Lynn Moughty. Prior to the online indexes, I worked through each of the book indexes but couldn’t find her. I figured as soon as the FamilySearch index was done it would be easy…Moughty being a rather unusual name…but alas, she never showed up. Then, in 2012 while working at the National Library in the online newspapers, a search of the Westmeath Examiner turned up her obituary. She is not in the new “enhanced” indexes either. The fact is, that there are people who never made it into the indexes at the GRO either because they weren’t registered, or for some reason, the local registration never made it to the GRO.
Here’s the search engine. Of course, had I been designing the database, I would have added a lot of additional fields <g>, but, the search engine wasn’t designed for genealogists. I don’t have problems searching for “Moughty,” but Daly presents some problems. In the early years, the family remained in the Claremorris area, but as I tried to work to the present, they started to scatter, and with the common surname, it’s difficult to clearly identify the correct person. Another of the “enhancements” is the addition of the mother’s maiden name on the birth index. Unfortunately, this isn’t all the way back to the beginning, but once you hit the 20th century (except in some of the early years) you’re likely to find it. The search box however, doesn’t let me add the mother’s maiden name as one of the search criteria. In order to search for children of William Quinn and Nora Daly from 1948 (when they married) to 1970 I can search on the last name Quinn and the year range, then check births. The results, 10,795 records. If I limit it to Claremorris registration district, I’m down to 25. (Remember, you’re searching by registation district not county or parish. Click here to see an explanation and map of the Registration Districts.) I then use the “find” feature in my web brower to look for Daly (mother’s maiden name) on the page, and come up with three children born in 1949, 1950 and 1954. Of course I would have to look at the actual certificates to verify that these are the correct individuals.
Another difference in this index is a change in the way we order certificates. The GRO changed their system to use a unique identifier called a Group Registration ID. This new number is not retroactive to some of the older registrations, but you’ll see it on many of the entries after 1903 for births and marriages, and 1924 for deaths. There is a chart here that explains what is in the indexes by years. You can also download an application to apply for a certificate by mail using a MasterCard or Visa. Make sure you indicate you want a photocopy if you are only using it for research purposes. A photocopy costs €4 where a full copy for legal purposes costs €20. I’ll be in Ireland in October if you have certificates you’d like to obtain, I can drop off your request at the GRO and have them mailed to you. Email me if you’re interested.
One other thing I noticed. There is a “Browse the Database by District” option at the bottom of the search form. I wasn’t sure why I would want to do this, but I clicked on it anyway using Claremorris District. There are 108,966 results! Here’s what I noticed. The majority of the first page of results had no years…there was just a 0. If you had searched with a specific year I don’t think any of these would have come up. I’m not sure why there aren’t any years but if you can't find someone, you might want to browse the registration district. I then did a find on Daly and didn’t have any results, so my missing ones weren’t here. I tried a few other districts and found they also had entries with no years.
Clare Santry on her Irish Genealogy News Blog has done an excellent job of explaining the new database and I highly recommend you read it (make sure you read to the end for a surprise announcement.)